A lackluster November is only a hint of the challenges facing the U.S. auto industry in 2008, when many automakers and analysts predict sales could drop to their lowest level in a decade.

As an Associated Press story on Page M3 explains, automakers said November sales were down 2 percent industrywide — and 11 percent for General Motors Corp. — as consumer confidence was rattled by high fuel prices and trouble in the housing market.

"Rising fuel prices and sliding home values delivered a one-two punch this month," Jim Lentz, president of Toyota's U.S. sales arm, said in a statement released in late November. "But the industry's not down for the count. Demand for fresh, more fuel-efficient products continues to show strength."

Scheduled automobile production in the first quarter of 2008 will be cut by GM and Ford Motor Corp., and Chrysler LLC may do the same.

"We'll see what happens, but thus far it's not looking like a very positive sales year next year," Global Insight analyst Aaron Bragman said.